Essex Division Two: Gidea Park skipper Jamal Francis believes greater experience will be key against promotion rivals Oakfield Parkonians
PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 August 2016
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Park all-rounder hopes squad can handle pressure better
Gidea Park & Romford captain Jamal Francis knows the team’s hopes of winning promotion from Essex League Division Two rests on a win against rivals Oakfield Parkonians tomorrow (Saturday).
With only two games remaining in the current campaign, Park now find themselves 12 points back from Oakfield in second.
Defeat this weekend would see Park miss out on promotion, while a draw could have them needing to win at Leigh and hoping Oakfield lose to Harlow Town on the final day.
It means tomorrow’s clash at Gallows Corner is almost a case of win or bust against an Oakfield side containing rising starlets such as Paran Kalley and brother Eshun.
But Park can call on experienced players such as former West Indies international Shawn Findlay and Francis believes the extra know-how his squad can boast could prove crucial in what is expected to be an extremely close match.
“It will be a test of patience and character for both sides. We both have young players, but we’re both near the top of the table because we’ve been consistent,” he said.
“We’ve both done well this season and it should be another good game. Hopefully the bit more experience that we have will get us over the line.”
Park lost ground in the race for promotion last weekend as they were forced to dig deep to earn a draw at Hainault & Clayhall.
Having won the toss, Francis chose to field, but his decision appeared to have backfired when Hainault racked up 282-6 from their 50 overs.
The Park reply stuttered from the off, with Zisan Abedin (46) the only batsman to offer any real resistance.
But having appeared to be in danger of losing with the score 142-9, Park showed superb resilience to bat out the remainder of the match and cling on for what could be a vital draw, with three overs lost to rain.
And though it was not the ideal result, as Oakfield beat Leigh, Francis says there are still positives for Park to take from the draw.
“The weekend didn’t go to plan for us. We backed ourselves to chase well again to win, like we have previously, but early wickets saw momentum shift in Hainault’s favour,” added the all-rounder.
“The bottom order got us out of trouble thankfully, but it shows we can also dig in when we need to as well as attack when we can.”
Park will be hoping they do not find themselves in a similar position this weekend, though, knowing it would severly harm their chances of going up.
And Francis knows it is almost a case of must-win if Park want to give themselves the best chance of pipping Oakfield to promotion.
He added: “Everyone knows it’s all or nothing, and we would have taken being in this position at the start of the season.
“If you’re not winning these games, then there are some who would say you don’t deserve to go up.
“The whole team know we have to turn up and it’s a case of everyone pulling their weight rather than banking on one star showing.”